2020 UPDATE: Due to coronavirus-related restrictions, Notre Dame is not hosting visitors during the 2020 season or putting on many of the events — tailgating, Friday pep rally, Player Walk, etc. — traditionally associated with a home game weekend. Tailgating is NOT permitted and visitors are discouraged from visiting campus. Anything found below this note reflects activities from previous seasons.
RELATED CONTENT: A Guide to Notre Dame Football Weekends in 2020
Fans from all over the country flock to The Bend during fall for Notre Dame football home games. And no matter the type of visitor, there are several different ways to spend your time in our neck of the woods. Campus and the community buzz with events all weekend.
Heading to the game with your family? Perfect. Coming back to town after spending your undergrad years at Notre Dame? Great. Checking a game day at Notre Dame off your college football travel bucket list? Awesome. We have just the places, events and experiences for your trip. Just follow these check lists for any type of Fighting Irish fan.
One more thing: If you’re visiting from elsewhere and still want to put on a great tailgate, consider connecting with Touchdown Tailgates. They can provide anything from tents to chairs to cornhole boards as a way to get your tailgate up and running.
Checklist No. 1: Family Friendly
Enjoy the tradition and fun of a home football game with the entire family.
CHEER FOR NOTRE DAME AT THE PEP RALLY
Sing along as the Notre Dame Marching Band plays the Victory March, watch the Notre Dame Leprechaun do an Irish Jig and hear from football players and coaches the night before their game.
TAKE THE FAMILY OUT FOR DINNER AT BARNABY’S
What’s better than pizza for dinner? Head to Barnaby’s, considered one of the best pizza places in The Bend, for a great Italian meal in a family friendly atmosphere.
HIGH-FIVE YOUR FAVORITE PLAYERS AT THE PLAYER WALK
Wish your favorite players luck as the team makes its way through campus to the stadium. The Player Walk takes place 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.
SING, CLAP AND CHEER FOR THE ND MARCHING BAND
Head to Bond Hall before the game as the band performs a short concert then watch as they “step-off” from the front steps of the Golden Dome and head to the stadium.
Checklist No. 2: Bucket List
Attending a Notre Dame football home game should be on every football fan’s bucket list.
TAKE A NOTRE DAME STADIUM TUNNEL TOUR
On home game Fridays, feel what it’s like to walk out of the tunnel and onto the field at Notre Dame Stadium. The don’t miss a chance to take your picture at field level.
EXPERIENCE TRUMPETS UNDER THE DOME
The Marching Band’s trumpet section gathers under the Golden Dome on Fridays at just after 4 p.m. to play “Notre Dame Our Mother” and the “Notre Dame Victory March.”
GRAB A BITE AT ROCCO’S RESTAURANT
Open since 1951, this family-owned Italian restaurant serves up “South Bend’s first original pizza.”
HAVE A COLD ONE AT CORBY’S IRISH PUB
You may recognize this Irish pub for its guest appearance in the movie Rudy. Enjoy a cold brew, grab something from the food window and play a game of cornhole outside alongside fellow Irish fans.
WAKE UP THE ECHOES AT MIDNIGHT DRUMMER’S CIRCLE
Before going to bed on Friday, meet the Marching Band’s drumline in front of the Golden Dome at midnight as they play the drum cadences for the game and a few fan favorites like the Notre Dame Fight Song. It’s an official kickoff to game day activities.
Checklist No. 3: Alumni
Come back to your old stomping grounds and see what’s changed since you left.
TAKE A CAMPUS TOUR
Show yourself around campus. There’s a pretty good chance a new building or two have gone up since your last visit.
LIGHT A CANDLE AT THE GROTTO
While you’re on campus, be sure to light a candle at the Grotto like you did so many times as a student.
ENJOY A MEAL AT CAFÉ NAVARRE OR LASALLE KITCHEN & TAVERN
Head downtown for some great dinner options. Café Navarre offers fine dining and a great wine selection. LaSalle Kitchen and Tavern is South Bend’s first gastropub. Its beer list is always evolving, as is the menu.
CHECK OUT THE SOUTH BEND RIVER LIGHTS
Take a stroll after sundown along River Lights in downtown South Bend. The light display along the St. Joseph River is interactive and comes alive with color.
TAKE A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE AT THE “BACKER”
To those who just pass by it, it is called the Linebacler Lounge. Students and alumni know it simply as “The Backer.” Mind the $5 cover then dance the night away with your friends.
Checklist No. 4: Annual Visitor
Perhaps you have a reliable itinerary. But it never hurts to try new things.
HAVE A COLD, LOCAL BREW
Grab a cold one at one of The Bend’s local breweries:
– South Bend Brew Werks (downtown South Bend)
– Crooked Ewe Brewery & Ale House (South Bend)
– Evil Czech Brewery & Public House (Mishawaka)
– Bare Hands Brewery (Granger)
LISTEN TO LIVE CELTIC MUSIC AT FIDDLER’S HEARTH
Downtown South Bend’s go-to Irish pub. Enjoy great live music, high quality food and a pint of your favorite ale at this family friendly gathering place.
TRY A TOP-SHELF COCKTAIL AT THE EXCHANGE WHISKEY BAR
Time for a cocktail in a throwback setting. Once a bank, The Exchange Whiskey Bar carries close to 150 whiskeys. Its craft cocktail menu is always vibrant and frequently changes.
GRAB DINNER AT MAIN ST. GRILLE
Treat yourselves for dinner and a drink at this locally owned restaurant in downtown Mishawaka. Wide ranging menu that includes pasta dishes, seafood and steaks.
VISIT GUGLIELMINO ATHLETICS COMPLEX
This state of the art facility houses Notre Dame football offices, practice facilities and various awards won by former Notre Dame legends. On Fridays, fans can come see the awards — Heisman trophies and the National Championship trophy.
Insider Tip: Be sure to fly direct into South Bend for your next visit to Notre Dame. South Bend International Airport is serviced by four airlines — Allegiant, American, Delta and United — providing nonstop flights to 12 major cities. It’s also the only airport in the United States to offer air, interstate rail and bus service in one location.